Oil and aquifers discovered in Italian Libya

Not sure if this is discussed but ;
what if the Italians discover oil and subsequently vast amounts of water in aquifers in around 1935?
As I understood OTL initially water was found and later oil. And I understood the Libyan oil is very sweet, so highly demanded even more in the thirties when high sulphur oil was still hard to refine.
 
Plottwist: instead of helping the Axis-powers, instead it means that after Operation Compass, the British focus on the NA-theatre (since it deprives the axis of oil) and don't send troops and supplies to Greece. German reinforcements arrive too late to make an impact and by march 1941 NA is secured by the British.

Alternatively: instead of contemplating Operation Pike, the French and British turn to Libya and in spring 1940 invade it from Tunis and Egypt, conquering it in a few months.
 
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I don't know the answer to this but how long does it typically take to bring an oil field in a desert environment on stream?
Took Saudi Arabia from 1938 to 1945 to get 50,000 bbl/day production going, with the help of the US, that was both in knowledge and millions of Dollars of investment
 
Took Saudi Arabia from 1938 to 1945 to get 50,000 bbl/day production going, with the help of the US, that was both in knowledge and millions of Dollars of investment
That’s a little misleading though. To quote from The Prize:
IT WAS KNOWN AFTERWARD, in corporate lore, as the “Time of the Hundred Men.” These were the war years, when the number of American oil men working in Saudi Arabia was reduced to a hundred or so, cut off for most of the time from the rest of the world, and the development of Saudi oil was forgotten amid the global clash of arms.
The concession was apparently signed in 1933, drilling started the next year (by which time Bahrain was already producing more oil than could be easily sold), the mega-discovery came in 1938, pipeline construction started immediately and was finished in April 39 with delivery of the first oil to a tanker. Production got up to 20,000bpd in 1940 and then basically everything stopped because of the war.
So first strike to 20K bpd in 2 years in a completely privately funded operation in the absolute arse end of nowhere that didn’t even have accredited diplomatic representation from the US, while a global war was kicking off.

Italian Libya was a wasteland but it wasn’t as bad as thirties Saudi, so a decent strike in 1935 should mean decent production by 1937.
Or maybe no production at all if the Fascist efficiency discount applies 🤔. Hard to tell really.
 
Not sure if this is discussed but ;
what if the Italians discover oil and subsequently vast amounts of water in aquifers in around 1935?
As I understood OTL initially water was found and later oil. And I understood the Libyan oil is very sweet, so highly demanded even more in the thirties when high sulphur oil was still hard to refine.

Libyan oil might have been sweet but it was very deep. An American company had the best (only viable) technology for deep oil well drilling and they were notoriously bad about renting it out. It could take over a year to negotiate a deal with them.

The other thing is that in the 1930s oil was as cheap as it ever had been (adjusted for inflation it was the cheapest ever). While oil was strategically valuable it wasn't economically valuable to start new (and therefore risky) drilling.

If oil is discovered in 1935 you get a trickle of oil in 1940-45 and you cancel a battleship or something to pay for the development.
 
Libyan oil might have been sweet but it was very deep. An American company had the best (only viable) technology for deep oil well drilling and they were notoriously bad about renting it out. It could take over a year to negotiate a deal with them.

The other thing is that in the 1930s oil was as cheap as it ever had been (adjusted for inflation it was the cheapest ever). While oil was strategically valuable it wasn't economically valuable to start new (and therefore risky) drilling.

If oil is discovered in 1935 you get a trickle of oil in 1940-45 and you cancel a battleship or something to pay for the development.
Eh? The discovery field was apparently in layers between 5,500 and 7,500 feet, which was no great depth by 1930.
The firm you are referencing sounds like Hughes and while they were no doubt interesting to deal with, that would probably only apply for new direct deals. Hire a drilling firm with a standing Hughes relationship and they would sort out the necessary tools. Wells were being drilled all across the world every day, Mexico, Venezuela, Canada, Iraq, Romania, USSR, Persia, Kuwait, Saudi, Burma, Indonesia just for production, never mind all the exploration that was taking place. Tools were not difficult to come by if they could be paid for.

Similarly, exploration didn’t completely grind to a halt. In 1933 Texas oil hit ten cents a barrel (vs a production cost of 80c). That same year Socal signed a brand new concession in Saudi Arabia that they paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for, in gold. They started drilling in 1934 and kept at it for four years of dry holes. 1934 was also when the Kuwait concession was agreed and drilling started there. The Bahrain discovery well had already taken place in 1932. Even in the US exploration was ongoing, a whole new oil field in Indiana was developed in 1938 and crashed the oil price again.

This was all purely commercial activity but for Italy there is an extra incentive in that Italian oil would not only save vast amounts of foreign exchange but free it from the threat of a foreign embargo. So a solid sniff of oil in Libya would be guaranteed plenty of action, IMO.
 
Interesting thought about the oil.
Never realized that oil in the thirties was cheap, how ever I am not surprised.

Some quotes from WIKI:
With a royal decree on April 3, 1926, the government of the Kingdom of Italy established the Azienda Generale Italiana Petroli (AGIP),
The explorer Ardito Desio who found oil in Libya and in 1939 came the so-called "Petrolibia operation"

But if the oil price was that low, making it a, presumable, un economic activity for exploration, what about the water discoveries in the Libyan desert.
The Mussolini regime was fond of land reclaiming projects, even if it was for propaganda, so would they not start huge irrigation projects ?
Large amounts of fresh water in the desert must trigger some totalitarian fantasies of a new Rome in the middle of the desert?
Or a 1930ties version of the "man made river" project which provide drinking water to Benghazi and Tripoli.
 
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could Italy support both expanded development (not just drilling) in Libya AND the war/development in Italian East Africa? my understanding they could not, or they would need some financial backer(s)
 
Enough American companies can see making money from a Libyan oil strike that they would want in. If Benny the Moose gets Ethiopia taken care of quick enough, then they can pivot to the oil fields as a new crusade by them. This might even provide a reason for him to stay out in 40 to keep trade in oil with the other countries, much like Spain and Turkey did with their raw materials.
 
what about the water discoveries in the Libyan desert.
The Mussolini regime was fond of land reclaiming projects, even if it was for propaganda, so would they not start huge irrigation projects ?
Large amounts of fresh water in the desert must trigger some totalitarian fantasies of a new Rome in the middle of the desert?
Or a 1930ties version of the "man made river" project which provide drinking water to Benghazi and Tripoli.

Check this site out. Bad part it is in South East Libya.

 
Check this site out. Bad part it is in South East Libya.

That is what I mean. The discovery of, believed, abundance of water, must trigger some totalitarian dreams of Italian settler cities in the desert. With this water the Mussolini regime is able to even more shape the Italian Libya of Italo Balbo and with this water not only to coastal regions but deep inland.
 
But if the oil price was that low, making it a, presumable, un economic activity for exploration, what about the water discoveries in the Libyan desert.
The Mussolini regime was fond of land reclaiming projects, even if it was for propaganda, so would they not start huge irrigation projects ?
Large amounts of fresh water in the desert must trigger some totalitarian fantasies of a new Rome in the middle of the desert?
Or a 1930ties version of the "man made river" project which provide drinking water to Benghazi and Tripoli.
Oil may have been cheap but the major oil companies were still buying concessions, drilling wells and developing any fields they found throughout the period.
1932 Discovery of oil in Bahrain. 10,000 bpd refinery capacity on stream by 1936
1932–33 Shah Reza Pahlavi cancels the Anglo-Iranian concession; Anglo-Iranian wins it back by giving him lots of extra money.
1933 Standard Oil of California pay ibn Saud lots of money for a concession
1934 Gulf and Anglo-Iranian gain joint concession in Kuwait by paying the Emir lots of money
1938 Oil discovered in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Saudi field has a pipeline, tanker connection in 1939 and is pumping 20,000 bpd in 1940.

That’s just the Gulf. 1936 first big gusher is drilled in Canadas Turner valley, Texaco buy a oil concession in Colombia and start developing it by drilling wells and building nearly 300miles of pipeline.

On the unsuccessful side of the ledger much less info is available but Royal Dutch/Shell and Anglo-Iranian apparently had a partnership that explored in Nigeria, Kenya, Tanganyika and even New Zealand without finding anything.
Given all this activity, what’s so special about Libya that makes oil development impossible? OTL it’s just that no-one really looked, same as no-one really looked in the Gulf or East Texas until 1930 because ‘there’s no oil there’.

Regarding water, there is apparently a whole lot going on underground in Libya with no less than three major fossil aquifers in addition to all the normal aquifers and all the oil/gas.
North West Sahara Aquifer System, Murzu Aquifer, Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System. No clue how practical it is to get any of it out pre WW2 since there is presumably no gas or water drive the way there is in an oil field, it would all have to be pumped?

 
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Given all this activity, what’s so special about Libya that makes oil development impossible? OTL it’s just that no-one really looked, same as no-one really looked in the Gulf or East Texas until 1930 because ‘there’s no oil there’.
The Moose told Sonoco to get lost in the late '30s so the Italian 'experts' could find that oil.
They didn't.
 
The Moose told Sonoco to get lost in the late '30s so the Italian 'experts' could find that oil.
They didn't.
Can you elaborate? Sonoco seems to be a packaging company. Sunoco is an oil company but seems to be have been mainly refining and distribution rather than drilling. Socony was one of the mega players but I can’t manage to turn up anything relating to pre-war Libya. Sinclair seem to have been tight with Mussolini in the twenties but again I can’t find anything about exploration. The timeline certainly fits but regardless, if there were any western oil companies there they didn’t find any more than the Italians.

I did turn up a very obscure thesis which had some background and a reminder of one very significant issue - Italy at first didn’t control much outside the ports, and then had a full-on war of colonisation going on until 1934, complete with depopulation, concentration camps, chemical warfare, etc etc etc. So without major changes the window is pretty tight for the OP.
evidence of oil and gas were detected and reported in water drilling holes as far back as 1914. Results like this showed up repeatedly as agricultural colonization expanded in the hinterlands of Tripoli and Benghazi.84 News of these findings made its way to the governor of Libya, Italo Balbo. Balbo, in turn, charged a commission of geologists led by Ardito Desio with the task of drawing up a plan of action. Desio had worked extensively in Libya on several oc- casions between 1932 and 1935 and knew the country well. The commission recommended explorations explicitly looking for oil, at which point Mussolini himself got involved. In a telegram dated August 4th 1937 he directs the director of agip, Umberto Puppini, to organize petroleum searches in collaboration with Balbo and Minister of Italian Africa Alessandro Lessona.85
The reasons why Mussolini would take such personal interest in what were ad- mittedly quite marginal findings could be threefold: first, oil was high on the agenda. While Italy had managed to circumvent international commodities sanctions brought to bear on it after the Second Italian-Ethiopian War of 1935–36, there was no guarantee it would successfully do so again. Second, preparations for a potential European-wide conflict were increasingly visible in the second half of the 1930s, a war for which resource-poor Italy would not be well suited. Third, the Italian navy had been building up towards ship parity with its French counterpart since the early 19th century, and oil was gradually replac- ing coal as combustion for these newer ships.86 The importance on Italy’s part of finding petroleum and finding it fast can be shown by the fact that agip initiated oil explorations in Ethiopia before the fighting there had even ended.
Acting on Mussolini’s instructions, in the fall of 1937 Puppini and agip asked Desio and his commission to finalize a research plan and budget. The latter turned out to be an initial stumbling block, as the exploration bill of an estimated six million Italian lire was passed along from one entity to another.88 Finally the Ministry of Finance agreed to cover the outlays, but it had cost the process an additional six months of bureaucratic wrangling. Such time wasted would prove to have been crucial, as we shall see below.
So starting March 1938 the AGIP crews started poking around in western Libya and struck out. By May they are starting to think about moving east. Work in Tripolitania comes to a halt in spring 1940 and the war prevents any move on to the next target area which is Cyrenaica. Supposedly the area around Agedabia was Desios specific interest and the discovery well came in less than 150km from there 20 years later, although that does sound like the end of a drinking story TBH.

OTL - start 1938, nine dry holes in 2 years, six million lire spent, almost got as far as looking in one of the right places.
ATL - start 1934 because ??? and start looking somewhere different because ??? Drill 3-4 dry holes while spending 3 million lire to hit one of the oil fields in 1935.

It doesn’t seem completely impossible, although why would they be in such a tearing hurry to get in there as soon as the shooting stopped? This is now a year or two before Mussolini’s introduction to oil sanctions rather than a couple of years after. However this and the bureaucratic inertia etc could maybe be handwaved away with “will of the Duce!” . Apparently for the 37-38 fiscal year Libya guzzled up 12% of the entire Italian budget so it’s not like they were shy about flushing money down that particular toilet.

Be bloody funny though if AGIP hit oil just in Cyrenaica as Mussolini declares war and then the brits get to hear of it. Can you imagine the shenanigans?

Thesis with a bit of background. https://www.duo.uio.no/bitstream/ha...is_Mathias_H_Tj-nn.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
 
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Any thoughts about the vast amounts of drinking water from the desert?
Enough water that if discovered early enough, instead of Italian immigration to America, we could see tens of thousands of Italians creating a Green Sahara.

Libya becomes a food exporter for the Axis in the short/medium term.

Problem is ground water won't last forever and desalination or abandoning the settlements will become nessecary over time.
 
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Enough water that if discovered early enough, instead of Italian immigration to America, we could see tens of thousands of Italians creating a Green Sahara.

Libya becomes a food exporter for the Axis in the short/medium term.

Problem is ground water won't last forever and desalination or abandoning the settlements will become nessecary over time.
Thanks for the thoughts,

How ever, was the large Italian migration to the USA not at the start of the 20th century?
No doubt Libya become a food exporter, but I do not see why for the Axis, you presume it is destiny for Italy to join the Axis.
You correct it fossil water does not last for ever and you are correct desalination will be come a problem.......but who cares? Certainly nobody with power in a dictator as Mussolini. I am not sure if knowledge of the drawback of irrigation was know in the thirties.
 
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